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"We should be in assisted living, not doing this," Jon Langford joked before the second encore of last night's Mekons show at Lincoln Hall. Touring behind their new record, Ancient & Modern, the group had done an acoustic show at Evanston's SPACE on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, electrified, they rocked out.
When I saw the Mekons at the Old Town School four years ago, Tom Greenhalgh was so shitfaced he forgot the lyrics to "Chivalry," the great song that gives Fear and Whiskey its title. I was wary—he hadn't played a Chicago show since then. ("Where have you been all these years?" Langford asked, and when Greenhalgh replied, "On my farm," Langford cracked, "Growing medical heroin?") But he was sharp, even doing leg kicks, and rather natty in red pants and a red bow tie.
Langford and Sally Timms were center stage in the eight-man group, bantering and bickering. And rightly so, though I think the band's rhythm section tends to be overlooked unduly. Steve Goulding is an amazing drummer, shy-seeming Sarah Corina a solid bassist; Susie Honeyman's violin always adds an extra dimension to the songs, especially live. Then there's the cadaverous Lu Edmonds on an electrified bazouki-like instrument I can't identify, and accordionist Rico Bell, who when introduced quipped, "I'm ancient and modern."
Set list: [h/t Ted]
1. “Calling all Demons”
2. “Thee Olde Trip to Jerusalem”
5. “Honey Bear”
6. “I Fall Asleep”
8. “Learning to Live on Your Own”
9. “Heaven and Back”
10. “Arthur’s Angel”
11. “Afar & Forlorn”
12. “Space in Your Face”
13. “(Sometimes I Feel Like) Fletcher Christian”
14. “Hole in the Ground”
1. “Wild and Blue”
2. “Last Dance”
3. “Hard to Be Human”
1. “Ghosts of American Astronauts”
2. “The Curse”